Zelenka, Leopoldine

Leopoldine Zelenka


13 February 1892 Vienna – 18 September 1970 Vienna

née Leopoldine Pfaffenmayer

In April 1922, Leopoldine Pfaffenmayer from Vienna was appointed Prokurist (authorized signatory) together with Carl Gruber and Georg Prachner of the Vienna antique book and art dealership Gilhofer & Ranschburg. When the company expanded and opened a branch in Luzern in 1924, she moved, now under her married name Zelenka, to Switzerland to manage the branch. From 1938 she was monitored by the immigration authorities there on account of her relationship with the Swiss National Socialist Franz Burri. She joined the NSDAP in March 1939 and was chairperson of the Auslands-Deutsche Frauenschaft Ortsgruppe Luzern. At that time, Gilhofer & Ranschburg had been Aryanized and sold artworks and books expropriated by the Nazi regime, frequently through the Luzern branch so as to obtain foreign exchange for the German Reich. The Swiss branch did not hold any auctions after the outbreak of war but continued its selling activities, as demonstrated by the case of the valuable library belonging to the lawyer Ludwig Toepfer, who had fled from Vienna to France. Zelenka sold the books in April 1941 to the Kunstmuseum Linz in spite of ban on export to Germany. After Gilhofer & Ranschburg Luzern was closed that year, she returned to Vienna and – in the meantime divorced from her husband Ludwig Zelenka, head of the Neu Bistritz (now Nová Bystřice, Czech Republic) employment exchange – and opened her own antiquarian store. At the same time she made her expertise available to the Institute for Monument Protection and to Gilhofer & Ranschburg, for example to valuate Rudolf Gutmann's library and print collection. After the war, Zelenka's application for exemption from the provisions of the Prohibition Act was rejected and on account of her Nazi past she was refused admission to Switzerland from December 1945 to July 1950. She continued to run her "art dealership with old and modern prints, drawings and autographs" until her death in 1970.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Georg Hupfer, Zur Geschichte des antiquarischen Buchhandels in Wien, Diplomarbeit Universität Wien 2003.

Esther Tisa Francini/Anja Heuss/Georg Kreis, Fluchtgut – Raubgut. Der Transfer von Kulturgütern in und über die Schweiz 1933–1945 und die Frage der Restitution, hg. von der Unabhängigen Expertenkommission Schweiz – Zweiter Weltkrieg (= Veröffentlichungen der Unabhängigen Expertenkommission Schweiz – Zweiter Weltkrieg 1), Zürich 2001.


WStLA, Gauakten, A1, Personalakten des Gaues Wien, Leopoldine Zelenka.
WStLA, Gauakten, K1 - Kartei, Leopoldine Zelenka, K1/299.
WStLA, M.Abt. 119, A42, NS-Registrierung, Leopoldine Zelenka.
WStLA, Handelsgericht Wien, A47-HRA, 11298.